Vengeance by Ian Irvine

October 25, 2012 Reviews 1

  • Date published: 8th November 2011
  • Publisher: Orbit Books (Hachette AU)
  • Format: Paperback, 544 pages
  • Series: The Tainted Realm, Book 1
  • ISBN 13: 9780733624278 ISBN 10:  0733624278
  • Categories: Fantasy
  • Goodreads / Booktopia / Bookworld
  • Source: bought

In Cython’s underground slave camps, only the timid and obedient survive – and Tali is neither, for she has sworn to bring her mother’s killers to justice. In Cython, having magic means the death penalty, and Tali’s gift is swelling out of her control.

Her dramatic escape precipitates Cython’s war on a weakened Hightspall and, when Tali is rescued by Rix, heir to Hightspall’s greatest fortune, they flee through a land in turmoil. But Rix’s subconscious is scarred by a sickening secret that links him to the killing, and before they can solve the crime, and defend the realm, Tali and Rix must learn to trust each other.

All the while, Tali is hunted by a faceless sorcerer who can only be beaten by magic, yet the one person who can teach her to use her unruly magic is the sorcerer himself.

As she unravels the ages-old conspiracy behind her mother’s murder, Tali’s quest for justice turns to a lust for vengeance. But how can she avenge herself on a killer who died two thousand years ago?

I read this book last year, and having found it to be a wonderful example of gripping Epic Fantasy, this re-read allowed me to delve into the deeper nuances of the story and pick out all sorts of details I had missed on my first, heart stopping read. Vengeance is a thought-provoking book, and in the usual Irvine style, left me desperate for more!

As I have to expect in an Irvine book, world building is immaculate in this book: everything has a purpose, a role, and it’s all vividly realised through the prose. The history is rich and complex, and the races of the Cythonians and Hightspallers are wonderfully delineated in terms of customs and speech. It did take me a while to place the Pale and the Herovians within this world, but I got there! One of the things that grabbed me about the book is that the first part – 193 pages – occurs over just a few days hours. It’s insane! I kept waiting for the characters to catch a break, and they never did! Vengeance is difficult to put down, and even when you’re away from it you’re always thinking about it!

The characters in the book carry a special place in my heart – Irvine has written about developed characters with clear conflicts and motivations that I found easy to empathise with. However, I still think that Tali could have been a little more complex: she’s your typical underdog for a lot of the book but does have shining moments where she steps out of that role. My favourite character is Tobry – there’s just something about him that draws me, plus his sense of humour provides a welcome reprieve from the darkness offered in the story.

Reading the story for the second time around, I was struck by the desperation of Lyf to return his people to their former glory. Previously I had just read him as a power-hungry bad guy – but this time around I saw other depths to his character and I’m really looking forward getting to know more about him as the series continues. Credit has to be given to Irvine for writing Lyf so that, even as I am hating him for threatening Tali and Rix’s lives, I am sympathising with him for the horrible things that have been done to him and his people.

Having read and loved Ian Irvine’s The Three Worlds books, I was nervous that I wouldn’t like this new series because, honestly, how could it get much better? Although Ian Irvine has written a completely different type of book in Vengeance, his trademarks of amazing world building and characterisation are still in evidence. It will be enjoyed by both fans of his earlier works, and those new to his work, and I highly recommend it!

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